(2nd LD) Moon vows gov’t effort for additional coronavirus vaccines

December 9, 2020

 President Moon Jae-in called Wednesday for the government’s efforts to secure a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines despite fiscal burden.

He pointed out that the government has already acquired early access to vaccines for 44 million people, saying, “The end of a long tunnel (in the anti-virus fight) is seen at last.”

South Korea will be able to begin inoculation in February or March next year, when an initial batch of vaccines arrives here, he said during an emergency meeting held at Cheong Wa Dae’s national crisis response center via video links to review the virus fight and control system in and around Seoul.

But it’s still too early to be complacent, he added, and called for continued efforts for extra vaccines even if financial burden is added.

He instructed relevant authorities to place a top priority on the safety and lives of the people. The country has a population of 52 million.

The president also stressed that the safety of vaccines should be “verified enough.”

He noted that vaccines have been developed “very urgently,” which may lead to an “unexpected situation,” and ordered thorough preparations for the start of inoculation as early as possible, including the close monitoring of their effectiveness and side effects via foreign case studies.

President Moon Jae-in in a file photo (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in in a file photo (Yonhap)

On the development of coronavirus treatment, he expected “tangible” results by domestic firms later this year or in early 2021.

“If it goes as planned, we expect to use treatment first prior to vaccine,” Moon said.

In the session, Jeong Eun-kyeong, chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), reported a plan to operate provisional testing centers in more than 150 areas, including Seoul Station, in the capital region for the coming three weeks in a bid to curb the rapid virus spread, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

Defense Minister Suh Wook said he would deploy officers of the Army’s special forces to assist healthcare workers in tracing virus contacts, Kang added.

Other attendees at the videoconference included acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jeong-hyup Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung and Incheon Mayor Park Nam-chun.